Sunday, December 20, 2009

Just Turn on the Lights!

I can say, in all honesty, nothing is worse (not even a screaming bride) than staff on-site that do not enjoy working with a wedding coordinator.  Since I came from a background of event planning and do know more aspects than that of just a coordinator (banquets, service staff, management, bartender) I understand their thought process from time to time, but when they make my job difficult, that's when I no longer understand where they are coming from.  
My experience has been that if you go in and help with things, as opposed to demand things, you will always have a better experience for yourself and for the bride.  I have the utmost respect for every single person that works at an event site because even without just one of them, things would go off as well as they should.  Now, with all that being said here is my conversation with an "angry bartender" last evening, that actually gave me a chuckle.
BACKGROUND- Site is beautiful and is decorated (of course) in a Christmas theme with red, golds, ivory and even a little silver.  There are twinkle lights in very strategic places so that the room is evenly and perfectly lit.  However, the bar lights don't seem to be working, so I approach the bartender.
ME- "Is there anyway we can get the lights on before guests start arriving?  I want everything to be ready to go so I can show the bride the room."
BAR- "What lights?" "Oh, these lights around the bar, ya, they don't work" (he walks away)
ME- (when he returns) "Hi, okay, well if those lights don't work, I have LOTS of extra lights I brought just in case, so I'd be happy to set those up in the garland around the bar, I'll even just leave them here so you can have working lights."
BAR- "Okay, no, I just said they don't work." (walks away again)
ME- (now following him) "Well, I have lights that DO work, so I can put them up, you don't have to help or anything, I'll just get them situated myself, just show me the plug."
BAR- (now back at the bar) "Listen, the lights don't work, there is no plug back here for the lights."
ME- (pointing to the lights attached to the extension cord) "Well, here is the extension cord, that should help, right?  If it isn't long enough, I've brought extra extension cords."
BAR- (visibly annoyed) "Okay, I already told you, they don't work, there isn't anywhere for me to plug them in back here."
ME- (smiling, BIG smile) "Well, why is there an extension cord connected to them, if they can't be plugged in, in the first place." 
BAR- (putting closed sign on bar and leaving the bar) "I don't know but I told you they don't work."
WOW, all that time, that whole conversation and he could have just plugged them in for me, but no, it goes on.  Of course, at this point, I'm certainly not allowing this attitude to be acceptable, I hadn't done anything to this man and my job is to make everything perfect for the bride, I can't have anyone get in the way of that.
I approach Banquet Manager to discuss.
ME- "Hi, I know we've talked and everything is great, I just need the bar lit up, everything is light strategically and without those lit, the room doesn't look right."
BANQUET- (rolling her eyes) "Oh yes, I can see it doesn't look right, just let the bartender know."
ME- (totally understanding her eye roll) "I know, I know, I'm being a pain but my job is to make everything exactly as the bride request, so I have to get these lit."
BANQUET- (feeling badly for eye roll) "No, you are fine, you certainly aren't as bad as most of the planners we get in here."  "I'll talk to the bartender for you."
ME- (thankful but still annoyed ALL this had to happen to get lights on a bar turned on) "Thank you SO much, you know I wouldn't be worth what they pay me, if I couldn't manage to get the bar twinkle lights turned on."
At this point the Banquet Manager and Bartender discuss the lighting situation and then the Banquet Manager leaves and comes back with the Utility Manager who goes behind the bar and, yes, plugs in the lights.
I am not posting this to focus on people sometimes having a poor attitude.  My job isn't to worry about anything like that, it is only to make things go well for the bride.  My point is to show, those of you who don't believe in coordinators, how some of the most mundane, ridiculous and absolutely simple task can turn into 20 minutes of work, for no reason other than people like to be difficult.  Which in turn, is why it is sometimes good to have a planner so that you don't have to deal with them, because once you add this in to the hundred other things I do, it is a long and exhausting day. 

4 comments:

  1. Brandi, I think you handled this situation beautifully! Even though the attitude of both the manager and the bartender could set off anyone, the goal is to light the bar and if you had returned their attitude you probably would have invested 20 additional minutes or not get it lit at all! Clearly the key is to keep one's composure and work toward the ultimate goal... the bar lights and the bride's happiness! Great job!

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  2. Maria,
    Thank you for saying so, I know it could have been taken a few ways (one of which would have been me being too passive) but I felt like that was the only way it would have worked out, like you said, without another 20 minutes invested!

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  3. Brandi, I also commend your ability to stay calm and composed in this situation. Events of any nature have the possibility of being staffed with nay-sayers and just plain bad attitudes. I find these kinds of situations (although frustrating from the onset) to be positive tests of my ability to "keep it together." I useually end up learning soemthing which will serve me well at my next event.

    Thanks for the post ~as it was an enjoyable read :)

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  4. Caren J Gray-Wedding & Event Planner, LLCDecember 21, 2009 at 9:54 AM

    WOW!!! Great job Brandi on keeping your cool:-)Sounds like the staff could use a refresher course in customer service(ya think). Either that or they need to get out of this line of business...lol
    It also sounds like a simular site I WAS looking at for a client's event. The owner not only keep us waiting 20min when we came to for the 1st walk thought. He also informed me that we needed to take the trash out once the event was over(approx 2am). Now! not only was I completely out done by his suggestion. But what I found out was the dumpter was a distance from the building with no lights. Ned less to say, after our visit. I notified my client that we needed to look for another site.

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